Never stop questioning

phlow is a free photo sharing app for young professional photographers and photo lovers.

Please introduce yourself and your startup phlow to our readers!

Carlo: Hi, my name is Carlo Nicora and I’m the co-founder and CEO of phlow. My role involves leading on tech development, managing the team and running the business from day to day. 

Alexander: My name is Alexander Szewald and I’m the co-founder and main investor behind phlow. 

What is the vision behind phlow?

Carlo: phlow is a new app where visual stories are shared among people with the same passions. Photos and journals are organised around content themes, rather than profiles and likes, meaning creatives find it easier for their work to be found, and readers can view what they’re truly interested in. We’re also developing the app so that users will be rewarded for sharing the most relevant content. 

How did you get the idea of phlow?

Carlo: I’m a tech guy, and a photographer as well. As a photographer I found that I was spending countless hours trying to develop a “following” for my business on social media, but because I didn’t enjoy chasing likes and followers, I didn’t seem to get anywhere. It was frustrating – my photos were not bad, they just were not being seen because I’m a bad social networker. This is because social media lets us see what friends and influencers want us to see, and networking is prioritised over quality content. That’s when I met Alexander and I talked to him about my concerns.

Alexander: There’s too much ‘digital noise’ in our world – the sea of noise is drowning us all. I’ve always been a passionate collector of photojournalistic work, and I see photography as a medium to see and understand the world. Today there are billions of photos uploaded, a true avalanche of information which should help us understand the world and make it a better place… but actually because of that information, steered by social media, it has become a worse place. All this endless content is turning us into addicts, and polarised viewpoints are being artificially amplified through social media which is affecting our daily lives and politics. And as a society, our productivity is going down. 

Carlo: So Alexander and I connected from different perspectives to the same problem. And from that place we worked together to create phlow.

Why did you decide to start with phlow?

phlow photo sharing app young professional photographers

Alexander: We knew that the world was ready for a content sharing platform that breaks away from traditional social media – one that prioritised quality and relevancy over and above social networking. We also knew that digital marketing spending is increasing year by year, yet brands are finding it harder to reach customers in a way that is authentic and meaningful online. So phlow made commercial sense to us, as well as moral sense. 

How difficult was the start and which challenges did you have to overcome?

Carlo: Our biggest challenge to date has been developing the technology behind phlow so that it recognises the relevance of content in each specific theme. We have invested a lot in R&D to make sure we have a functional and scalable system. The second biggest challenge has been to simplify our user interface enough so that users have the best experience possible. 

Who is your target audience?

Carlo: This is an interesting question because due to the way in which phlow revolves around people’s passions, there are many different industries and audiences we could target. However, our plans at this stage focus on targeting small, niche markets which revolve entirely around people’s deep passions. And within these markets we intend to target both the readers who consume this content, the creatives producing this content and the companies who produce the related offline products. For example, readers interested in surfing, surf photographers and surfing brands. 

What is the USP of your startup?

Alexander: The app has the relevancy of Google search – so readers see what they want to see – combined with the enjoyability of a platform like Facebook. However reading phlow is more like reading a very visual magazine, rather than a never ending timeline. Our journals give the reader what they need through short, bite sized information which captures the senses. Think pre-digested and persuasive content, presented in a highly visual way. The end result is that the reader is taken on a compelling journey. We’re also intending to reward users who share the most relevant content, so that the majority of our advertising revenue goes back to the community. 

Can you describe your typical workday?

Carlo: I start every day in the same way: I check my goals, my task list and the status of the project as a whole. I then start getting in touch with everyone to understand how their day started.

From there, there isn’t a single day which is like another. This is the beauty and the curse of running a startup. One day you work on a revolutionary technical innovation, another you help your team to connect and flourish. One day you work on one task alone, and another your day seems to be an endless list of small things you need to do to make your company take off.

The reality is that the startup world requires everyone to be flexible and agile.

Where do you see yourself and your startup phlow in five years?

Carlo: In five years I see phlow being a thriving online platform where people can foster their passions, and I see it generating revenue which we will give back to our users. Our end goal is to offer something completely different from today’s social media, and to reward creatives for their labour in our community.

What 3 tips would you give to founders?

Never stop questioning, and never stop looking for something better.

There will be moments in which everything will go south, moments in which you will doubt yourself and your ideas. Never. Stop. Believing!

Release apps early, release often and understand how your users interact with your system. 

More information you will find here

Thank you for Carlo and Alexander the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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